Why Reading Multiple Books at Once May Harm Your Writing
Fond of Reading?
Reading is probably one of the best ways to strengthen one’s writing. This is not a little-known fact, and most writers are also avid readers. For those who are aspiring to make a career out of writing, you probably have a list of favorite books and authors that you find yourself drawn to. Maybe you try to adapt the style of your favorite writer, or find inspiration in the pages of their novels. I know I do. But one thing I (and I’m sure many others) have learned is that no matter how spectacular your writing style is, no matter how perfect your grammar or how wonderful your story, there’s not much to be proud of if you just can’t seem to get the words out.
Now, this is not a three-step guide to conquering that terrible ailment known as Writer's Block, nor is it a guaranteed cure-all for everyone who encounters obstacles in the writing process. However, if you are a writer or are aspiring to be one, and if you enjoy reading more than one book at a time, this may be of interest to you.
Don't Confuse Yourself!
Not everyone who reads two or three or seven books at once has trouble crafting stories and putting them on paper. But for the multi-book readers who do find it difficult to tell their tales, consider this: when you read several books at once, you are following several plots at once. You are in several worlds at once, you are becoming intimate with several characters at once, you are dealing with several conflicts at once, and (whether you realize it or not) you are confusing your brain.
Reading as little as two books at once can cause people to unconsciously cross stories and confuse elements from the different pieces. It becomes difficult to keep everything straight, and this can very easily carry over into your writing. Even if you are able to separate what happens in which book, you have trained your brain to think in a sporadic pattern. When you jump from book to book, your brain jumps with you and does not want to stay focused on any one piece. This may explain why it’s so difficult to actually get that story down, even though you’ve got it completely figured out in your head. You might not be able to keep it straight. Your brain might jump around on you, even when you tell it to sit still and focus. It’s not going to want to obey, kind of like that new puppy that’s discovered how great a chew toy your shoes are. Or that cat that has a fondness for substituting the carpet in your hallway for the litter box, if you’re not really a dog person.
If you’re someone who writes several stories at once, this is the perfect state to have your brain in. You can shift from story to story and not worry about crossing plotlines or switching characters, and you might not run into the dreaded Writer’s Block. But if you’re trying to focus on one particular piece, you might consider doing the same as a reader and not just as a writer.